i was walking across the park two mornings ago. the air warm, sticky--battling off fall's advance.
i shuffled along the cobblestones lining central park south lost in thought--lost in a mess of thoughts, a tangle of half-formed, ill-informed notions, no one clear or strong. and i was swimming. taking laps in the discomfort of it all when one surfaced, thrummed up and through. came out before i even knew what was what was happening.
clear as day and eight words.
it was a prayer.
God, grant me the courage to be happy.
and from my body there went a little bit of air. oh. so that's my great wish. the courage to be happy.
i didn't pray for happiness, didn't ask for the thing itself. my plea was for the courage.
the courage to pursue happiness.
sadness is known territory. it is a settling back on one's heel. it is a falling inward that comes naturally and takes little to no work. that's not entirely true, it takes a great deal of work, but the work is easy and deceptively alluring.
happiness, well, happiness demands that i be bold. demands that i say yes (most especially when i don't want to). it demands that i value myself enough to feel worthy of happiness.
ay, there's the rub. there's the tricky, unsettling part: it demands that i value myself enough to feel worthy of happiness. why is that so hard, to say, i am worth fighting for? this good thing, it's okay that i want it. and it's okay that i might get it.
the prayer, that monday morning prayer, was an answer, an affirmation in and of itself. it was illumination.
the courage to be happy. fight for happiness.
but in riding the train home last night, clinging to my little prayer, there came a bit more.
relax into it.
fight for happiness. be bold. say yes. and then relax into it. ride the wave. recognize that this thing you think is terrifying might actually be thrilling. and you'll look back in ten years and wonder where that feeling went--that one that you're fighting so hard against right now--and you'll find yourself praying for a way to get it back. imagine that. so enjoy it. live in it. revel in the unknown and uncertain and the delicious discomfort of it.
and know that you're worth it.
(post script: know that in reading this over i started to cry. and i'm not entirely sure why. perhaps because as true as i know this all to be, there are moments where it is so very hard. to fight and not know and not understand why what's happening is happening. life is hard, you know?).